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09.30.17

How Tribes in America Have Fallen for a “Scam” That Now Facilitates Patent Trolls

Posted in America, Patents at 1:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Now affiliated with trolls

Three Affiliated Tribes
Reference: Three Affiliated Tribes

Summary: Three Affiliated Tribes are now being used as a proxy of a patent troll, which is trying hard to avoid proper scrutiny of the patents it is using

EARLIER this month we wrote two fairly long articles [1, 2] about the Mohawk people acting as a ‘proxy’ to suppress inter partes reviews (IPRs) by the US Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). This is no laughing matter. Some nefarious entities that are registered in truly dodgy places are trying to create a loophole against justice itself. It makes Natives look bad; the Mohawk tribe, for example, is now known (to many) for nothing more than a patent “scam” (see this new article from the Financial Times entitled “Allergan deal with Mohawk tribe casts patent shadow”).

Never mind if patents are a notorious threat to Traditional Knowledge (TK) and are inherently damaging to Natives…

Several readers told us about this report which suggests further action along those lines. As BoingBoing put it, “Indigenous tribes fronting for patent trolls sue Apple and “[b]y transferring title to the Three Affiliated Tribes, ITRI can force Apple into a longer, more expensive procedure for invalidating its patent, rather than the streamlined inter partes review.”

This kind of “scam” (not our word) is a new kind of scam. It can cost a lot of money, as we shall explain in a later (and much longer) article about PTAB. Here is how Ars Technica put it:

Apple gets sued for patent infringement dozens of times each year, mostly by little-known shell companies with no products—the types of companies often derided as “patent trolls.” But the newest lawsuit seeking royalty payments from iPad sales is likely a first: the recently created plaintiff, MEC Resources LLC, is wholly owned by a Native American tribe. The MEC lawsuit appears to be using Native American legal rights to avoid having the US Patent Office perform an “inter partes review” that could invalidate the patent.

The case had a typical beginning. In March, a Texas company named Prowire LLC filed a lawsuit (PDF) against Apple in Delaware federal court, claiming that the iPad 4 infringes its US Patent No. 6,137,390.

Suffice to say, sites that are connected to patent trolls (like IAM in this case) are happy about it. An alternative headline for this “International report” would be: “patent hoarders (dubious patents too) exploit the Mohawk tribe in a scam”. To quote:

If Allergan ultimately prevails in insulating its patents from inter partes review, companies with valuable patents will want to consider implementing similar strategies. Protecting valuable patents from the unfavorable standards and presumptions in inter partes reviews may provide significant benefits to patent holders and their shareholders. As a Native American tribe’s sovereign immunity can be limited by Congress through legislation, patent owners will want to assess the possibility of congressional action should Allergan succeed.

Only moments ago we also saw this new article about Allergan. It said, correctly, that “[d]ismantling the PTAB would be highly dangerous to society’s well-being and the ability to curb abuse by corporations.”

Here’s a portion from it:

What is Allergan afraid of?

[...]

Dismantling the PTAB would be highly dangerous to society’s well-being and the ability to curb abuse by corporations. An unmerited patent on a life-saving drug, for example, can prevent generic competition for decades—keeping prices astronomical and preventing patients from getting treatment. And having a patent does not automatically make you an innovator— on the contrary, bad patents stifle American invention by preventing entrepreneurs and scientists from using existing knowledge to work on the new, fresh ideas that fuel our economy.

It’s hard to understand why these Native tribes believe that it’s worth the negative publicity. For just a reasonably small amount of money their people (the tribes) quickly become synonymous with patent aggressors.

Trolling Conglomerates MPEG-LA and Fortress Are Plotting to Start Another Round of Patent Shakedowns

Posted in Patents at 12:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Fortress and patent trolls

Summary: Updates regarding MPEG-LA and Fortress, some of the world’s worst when it comes to raiding competitors (of clients) using patents

ONE of the world’s largest patent trolls is MPEG-LA. It’s a Microsoft- and Apple-connected patent troll which collects a ‘tax’ on almost everything “multimedia” and it recently started pursing a similar 'tax' on life itself — as gross as that notion may be now that the EPO — more so than the USPTO — grants patents on life.

Just before the weekend the patent maximalists recalled that “[i]n April this year, MPEG LA, issued an invitation to CRISPR-Cas9 patent holders to participate in a global CRISPR-Cas9 Joint Licensing Platform to create “a single non-exclusive, cost-effective, transparent license”.”

We last wrote about this in July.

Another Web site of patent maximalists (and even trolls that pay for bias) now says that “Fortress expects to be involved in a lot more litigation in the near future,” having accumulated patents with which to attack companies.

To quote:

The hire of James clearly indicates that Fortress expects to be involved in a lot more litigation in the near future and that it is very serious about winning. As a senior player inside a major US law firm, James would have an income in the high six or low seven figures and would not have considered a switch for anything less; neither would he have swapped roles without being confident of the quality of the Fortress patents and of the level of support he would be given. For those that Fortress is litigating against – now and in the future – all these things might ring alarm bells.

IAM adds that “while it may be tougher to litigate, say, software-related patents in the US these days, if Fortress has done its job correctly, that will not matter too much as it will have other kinds of patents covering other jurisdictions to use…”

The concept of “software-related patents in the US” will be covered separately later tonight and tomorrow. When it comes to such patents, if the litigation target is poor enough, the legal defense (challenge) would be too expensive, so ‘protection’ money is likely to be shelled out.

Such is the problem with patent trolls. They oughtn’t exist in the first place and if he US stopped issuing software patents, many of these patent trolls would cease to exist/operate.

Apple is the Next BlackBerry

Posted in Apple, Patents, Samsung at 11:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Blackberry Guardsman

Summary: BlackBerry continues going down the route of ‘monetising’ its patents rather than actually making phones — something towards which even Apple increasingly gravitates

It was exactly two weeks ago that we wrote about BlackBerry becoming aggressive with patents. Only days later we found out that their chief patents guy had left. BlackBerry has a large number of patents granted by the USPTO, even though BlackBerry is Canadian.

BlackBerry, as we have stated in nearly a dozen articles, was reduced to nothing but patent litigation and “licensing” (euphemism for shakedown/settlement/extortion, which otherwise culminates in litigation). Their producing part of the business is more or less defunct (depending on who one asks; they still need to provide updates to existing customers).

“BlackBerry’s Software Sales Contribute To Share Value Increase,” said this headline just before the weekend. “BlackBerry signs first licensing deal for its version of Android,” said other headlines [1, 2] from Thursday. These deals have a lot to do with design patents and even hardware (especially keyboards that BlackBerry is widely known for). To quote:

BlackBerry stopped making its own phones last year and began licensing its technology and brand to other companies. Up to this point, those deals have included BlackBerry’s hardware patents, some of which go back to the nascent days of the smartphone era. This deal shows there is demand for the company’s version of the Android software on its own, said Alex Thurber, head of mobility solutions division for the Waterloo, Ontario-based company.

We expect Apple too to end up like this. Why? Because Android OEMs are taking away its market share, little by little.

Yesterday, citing the likes of Rebecca Tushnet (not patent maximalists for the most part), Florian Müller wrote about Apple’s design patent case (there’s more than one) against Samsung. Here’s the latest:

Apple and Samsung have meanwhile responded to each other’s proposed tests (Apple brief, Samsung brief). They accuse each other’s proposal of being inconsistent with the Supreme Court decision, other case law, and statutory law. Up to a certain degree, I agree with Mr. Levy’s criticism of Apple’s proposed test: Apple is simply trying to salvage a $400 million award through a test that has rather subjective elements such as “how” a design was used, “how” a product was sold, or “the degree to which the asserted article of manufacture is physically and conceptually distinct from the product as sold.” That kind of test would be a recipe for lengthy trials and confused juries, in many cases even hung juries.

[...]

A really interesting panel debate–the 90-minute recording is worth watching in its entirety– took place in Washington D.C. the week before last. A Law360 reporter attended and noted that this design patent damages issue divides the patent world. Professor Rebecca Tushnet (Harvard) published some of the panelists’ statements on her blog. I’ll probably get back to some of what was said on that panel at the next procedural juncture.

Apple is eager to win this legal battle because if (or when) Samsung gives up Apple can then go after other OEMs, not necessarily with lawsuits but with “licensing” demands.

Battistelli’s Club Med at the EPO – Part IV: The Angolan Patent Office (IAPI) Seems Almost Defunct

Posted in Africa, Europe, Patents at 10:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Angola and the Portuguese “laundromat” explained further

IAPI domain

Summary: IAPI, the Angolan authority in charge of patents, turns out to be what we in the UK call “dodgy as Hell” (or worse words than “Hell”)

THE EPO is getting closer to Angola (see part 1) — a country which António Campinos and Benoît Battistelli are connected to (see part 2). Angola is widely known for corruption (see part 3) and today we wish to expand on that, offer some more links, and tie things together with an explanation that relates to the later/future parts (where EPO is revisited).

“From these reports it seems clear that very little moves in the Angolan economy without the clique around the Dos Santos family claiming a slice of the action.”For further information, in case the previous parts were not already read, see parts 2 and 3 in particular. In parts 6 and 7 we shall deal again with António Campinos and Benoît Battistelli. The relevance will become more obvious.


Over the last few years, Forbes has published a number of interesting reports about corruption in Angola. Several different writers in there covered it in 2013, 2014 [1, 2], and 2016. This article is a month old.

“What kind of government office uses a Microsoft Hotmail account in 2017?”From these reports it seems clear that very little moves in the Angolan economy without the clique around the Dos Santos family claiming a slice of the action. Unfortunately, there is no information available about how well (or not) the system of intellectual property protection functions in Angola.

The official website of the IAPI seems to be permanently down. To make matters worse, when we last checked the site it looked like a hijacked (squatted) .gov domain. “Thank you for visiting the Bargain Auto Finance webpa:e” [sic] is what the page says. It goes on: “Bargain Auto Finance was established because of a love for cars and a desire to give the consumer a peace of mind buying experience. Our team of fully qualified Finance and Insurance Managers will negotiate terms on your behalf giving you a secure process. Bargain Auto Finance offer a variety of financing or refinancing options.”

Sounds like one of these notorious scams. What does that do in iapi.gov.ao? It’s definitely not some very temporary mistake or accident. It has been like this for a number of days (at least, based on our checks over the past week).

“There is no website listed in the WIPO database entry for Angola,” a reader told us. That’s true. “The “Bargain Auto Finance” website seems to belong to a South African company,” the reader noted (bargainfinance.co.za), so something very dodgy is definitely going on here. “The e-mail address for the Angolan Intellectual Property Institute listed in the WIPO database entry is a hotmail.com address. Also the WIPO entry seems to be out of date because the current Director of the IAPI is Mr Dário Camati,” the reader concluded. WIPO says: “Title and name of head; Director General: Ms. Ana Paula da Costa Pereira Migel (E-mail address paulabolivar8@hotmail.com).”

“It could be interesting to find out more about how the proposed “validation agreement” with the EPO is going to operate.”What kind of government office uses a Microsoft Hotmail account in 2017? And with account name/alias paulabolivar8? “No idea what is going on here,” our reader said.

Their Facebook page seems to be completely empty. Not that a government office should be operating through Facebook either way…

It could be interesting to find out more about how the proposed “validation agreement” with the EPO is going to operate.

These “validation agreements” typically involve the payment of an initial validation fee of a few hundred Euros to the EPO. The initial fee is shared out between the EPO and the national IP Office of the validation state based on a proportion set down in the validation agreement.

“Given what is generally known about the rampant levels of corruption in Angola, it would not be surprising if foreign investors encountered a system of patent protection that was not very effective at safeguarding their rights or that some additional “financial incentives” would be required in order to get a result in their favour.”Thereafter the patent proprietor pays annual renewal fees to the national IP Office of the validation state based on the amounts laid down under national law.

Depending on the level of uptake, such a scheme could could potentially generate a handy revenue stream for the Angolan government. It would be interesting to follow the subsequent money trail and see how much of that would be likely to end up in the pockets of the ruling clique.

Another issue confronting foreign patent proprietors opting for validation in Angola would be the question of how effective the system of patent protection is and whether or not patent proprietors can actually enforce their rights, for example via the courts.

Given what is generally known about the rampant levels of corruption in Angola, it would not be surprising if foreign investors encountered a system of patent protection that was not very effective at safeguarding their rights or that some additional “financial incentives” would be required in order to get a result in their favour.

Jesper Kongstad’s Last Day is Today, But the EPO Remains a Sordid Mess Like the UPC

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

At the EPO Willy Minnoye, Ciarán McGinley and soon more are the likely casualties of a dysfunctional EPO

Trump staff leaving

Summary: More high-level EPO staff leaving; the outlook, however, does not look promising, for nothing suggests a change of direction or strategy

Jesper Kongstad is over. Today is his last day. Several months ago we broke the news (in English), months after we had published this series about his conflicts. Unemployed or retired years too early? We don’t know. We heard from reliable sources that he had been pushed out.

Today, a Saturday oddly enough, is Jesper Kongstad’s last day both at the DKPTO and the EPO (at least at his capacity as Chairman, though we assume that by leaving his NPO he also ceases to serve as a Danish delegate). Where do we go from here? Well, the most prominent German delegate (head of it) is now becoming the new Chairman and thus the ‘boss’ of Battistelli. As we explained back in summer, we don’t expect much to change until Battistelli’s departure next summer. We certainly don’t expect the UPC to come to fruition by then. “Torpedos seem to become more common in patent cases,” Juve’s UPC expert wrote. “But the most effective one was fired off by Björn Stjerna. #UPC challenge at Karlsruhe.” The FFII is currently trying to get a copy of Björn Stjerna’s challenge. There are more challenges on the way and the deadline is a month away.

“As we explained back in summer, we don’t expect much to change until Battistelli’s departure next summer.”Don’t expect any progress on the UPC this year. Those who claim progress typically have something to gain from such a lie. We’re talking about firms such as Bristows and EPO media ‘friends’ (sometimes paid by the EPO) like Managing IP or IAM.

Yesterday, Managing IP published this self-serving garbage from Bart van Wezenbeek. It’s just UPC lobbying ‘dressed up’ as an article. To quote some bits:

The appeal against this decision from BD was also rejected and the patent was maintained as granted.

[...]

The decision on basis of extended subject matter is remarkable, since the interpretation of the technical content of the claims deviates from the interpretation of the Board of Appeal of the EPO. According to the Dutch court the intended interpretation as now used for the claims was not directly and unambiguously derivable from the application as filed.

Although a number of court cases (including the present Dutch one) have not been finally decided and appeals are pending, the case again illustrates that national courts and the EPO Board can come to deviating decisions on the same European patent. The case thus again illustrates the need for a Unified Patent Court.

How many more of these pieces need we see? They’re attacking EPO boards (like Battistelli does) to promote the UPC. The Dutch firm that the author works for is V.O. Patents & Trademarks, which arrogantly pretends that the UPC is coming soon. Another firm which has been doing this is Marks & Clerk, which not only promotes software patents but also habitually drops lies about the UPC (we have given many examples of that). Based on this new article from them, Marks & Clerk also object to patent quality. Watch what they has just said:

Decision T 488/16 of the Boards of Appeal of the EPO has been published setting out the reasoning for the revocation of European patent number EP1169038 protecting the anti-cancer drug dasatinib (Sprycel®). The Decision represents an interesting development of the doctrine of “plausibility”, particularly in relation to small molecule pharmaceuticals.

The patent owner had sought to defend the patent on the basis of just one claim directed to the single compound dasatinib. The novelty of this compound was not in dispute, and the case hinged on the extent to which the patent owner was entitled to rely on the activity of the compound (as a PTK inhibitor) as a technical effect when seeking to establish an inventive step.

We remind readers that many EPO staff (notably examiners) are under attack because of the UPC. The management does not seem to mind destroying the Office and the EPC, as long as at the end it gets its way.

Why is the media not covering this? We mean mainstream media, not some blogs here and there.

“Why is the media not covering this? We mean mainstream media, not some blogs here and there.”As a reader from the Netherlands put it recently, “if anyone bothered… maybe our government bribes people not to publish about it? The ruling liberal party (VVD) certainly promotes a “positive climate” for big industry and IOs, in the interest of some SMEs (restaurants, retailers, bakers, etc in this region of NL) which mainly make a living from selling to the EPO and its staff. It does not interest them that many others (including EPO staff) suffer.”

“This is similar to what has been happening in the Eastern District of Texas,” I responded. For those who don’t know, the judges in Texas openly and blatantly twist the law in an effort to attract aggressors and patent trolls (big business there) — a subject we shall certainly cover later this weekend. The UPC too paves to way to a sort of ‘Eastern District of Texas’ in Europe. That’s hardly even a secret.

Links 30/9/2017: Kubernetes 1.8, Linux 6-Year LTS, Wine 2.18 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 7:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • GPD Pocket Ubuntu Editon Review

      Netbooks are often ridiculed as a solution looking for a problem but they are also regarded as the ancestors of present day Chromebooks and “cloudbooks”. With the resurgence of these more modern but still low-performance devices, it might seem that the netbook is due for a revival as well. Or so that seems to be the proposition GPD makes with its almost literal Pocket computer. But does that make more sense now than it did before, especially in an age of powerful smartphones? We take the Ubuntu Edition of the GPD Pocket for a good and thorough testing to find out.

  • Server

    • Navigating Kubernetes and edge computing

      Often the best path to working with two vanguard technologies is unclear. That’s why OpenDev, a recent two-day event sponsored by the Ericsson, Intel and the OpenStack Foundation, dedicated a session to folks navigating Kubernetes and edge computing. Both technologies appear to be here to stay. “Containers are what the developers are using,” said Jeremy Huylebroeck of Orange Silicon Valley. “It’s way more convenient for them to actually publish their code and try things faster.”

      OpenDev was devised as more of a workshop than a traditional conference, you can also check the event schedule for Etherpads from the individual sessions.

    • SUSE Updates Linux Application Delivery Platforms

      Enterprise Linux vendor SUSE is updating a number of different platforms this week, including its Kubernetes based CaaS Platform.

    • ​Kubernetes takes a big step forward with version 1.8

      If you want to manage containers in the cloud, Kubernetes is the program for you. Its latest release, Kubernetes 1.8, is better than ever.

    • Kubernetes 1.8 Improves Security With Role-Based Access Control

      Version 1.8 of the open-source Kubernetes container orchestration and management platform is now available, providing features that improve both scalability and security.

      Kubernetes 1.8, released on Sept. 28, is the third major milestone release for Kubernetes in 2017 and follows the 1.7 update that debuted in June. The Kubernetes project was originally started by Google and has been managed as a Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) effort since July 2015.

    • Blockchain skills: Don’t Try to Block the Chain

      Blockchain technology is on the rise. Some might presume Bitcoin is the reason behind it. While it was developed for the digital currency, developers are finding other uses of blockchain technology. Most prominently is the open source project Ethereum. The use of Ethereum has brought about smart contracts, which have proven to be quite functional within the financial industry. With its decentralized structure, blockchain technology could be a paradigm shift with vast boundaries.

    • DevOps Jobs: 5 must-reads for job seekers, hiring managers
    • Tools and Practices for Documenting Microservices
    • Clear Linux Can Run On AMD’s EPYC Platform With Competitive Performance

      As part of our ongoing AMD EPYC Linux benchmarking, I’ve been working this week on a cross-distribution GNU/Linux comparison followed by some BSD testing… Of course, I couldn’t help but to see if Intel’s performance-oriented Clear Linux distribution would run on the AMD EPYC server.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Lots of lights: Generating cities

        Sometimes data visualization might call for more than a graph – you need to visualize complex data, such as that generated by city lighting, in three dimensions to get the full effect.

        KDAB decided to put together a showcase for the Qt World Summit that allowed us to demonstrate Qt 3D’s capabilities as a performant next-generation graphics engine, which can draw thousands of lights and objects simultaneously. This also enabled us to show what modern technologies like Qt 3D can achieve when paired with OpenGL, C++ and custom tooling.

      • GammaRay 2.8.1 Release

        We have released version 2.8.1 of our Qt application introspection tool GammaRay. This release contains a number of important bugfixes as well as support for Qt 5.9.2. Especially if you are experiencing corrupt views or crashes when searching in the object tree, or having trouble attaching to a process on Windows, you want to upgrade to the new version. The same applies to users of bleeding edge Qt versions experiencing build failures.

      • Last week in Kdenlive

        This release is only made available for interested testers and should not be used for production. Please report problems in the categories placed on the phabricator page regarding the AppImage / timeline refactoring branch, we will switch back to the normal bugtracker when the beta release will be ready.

      • Krita 3.3 Open-Source Digital Painting App Released with Better HiDPI Support

        Krita, the cross-platform, open-source and free digital painting tool used by hundreds of thousands of artists worldwide, has been updated today to version 3.3, a point release that adds better HiDPI support and many other improvements.

        Prominent changes of Krita 3.3 include support for the Windows 8 event API to bring native support for the n-trig pen in the Surface line of laptops, as well as other similar notebooks from Acer, Dell or HP, refactored hardware-accelerated display functionality to make Krita use Direct3D indirectly instead of native OpenGL.

      • It’s the Qt showdown

        Qt desktops are many and varied. So one may ask, all right, if you have to choose one, which one? Well, the answer is both complicated and philosophical. First, because taste is subjective, and my immediate answer would be Plasma, hands down. The way it is realized in Kubuntu 17.04 is just awesome. The best Linux has to offer on the market right now.

        But let’s say you want to choose from one of the other available Qt-based desktops. What do you do then? Well, that’s why we’re here, and I’d like to give you a multi-dimensional overview and comparison of these different Qt desktop environments. After all, we talked about them a fair bit recently, so let’s narrow it down, shall we?

      • Come dine with the KDE e.V. board in Berlin in October!

        As has become tradition in recent years, the KDE e.V. board will have an open dinner alongside its in-person meeting in Berlin, Germany on October 14th, at 7 PM.

      • KDE’s KWin Running On Wayland Gets Real-Time Scheduling

        When KDE’s KWin is acting as a Wayland compositor, there’s now a real-time scheduling policy to ensure the graphical system is always responsive.

      • KWin/Wayland goes real time

        Today I landed a change in KWin master branch to enable real time scheduling policy for KWin/Wayland. The idea behind this change is to keep the graphical system responsive at all times, no matter what other processes are doing.

        So far KWin was in the same scheduling group as most other processes. While Linux’s scheduler is completely fair and should provide a fair amount of time to KWin, it could render the system hard to use. All processes are equal, but some processes are more equal than others. KWin – as the windowing system – is to a certain degree more equal. All input and all rendering events need to go through KWin.

        We can now imagine situations where a system can become unusable due to KWin not getting sufficient time slots. E.g. if the user moves the mouse we expect a timely cursor motion. But if KWin is not scheduled the system is quickly starting to lagging. Basically what we expect is that when the mouse moves with the next page flip the cursor must be at the updated position. A page flip happens normally every 16 msec (60 Hz), so if we miss one or two we are in the area where a user visually notices this. For a gamer with a high precision mouse this could be quite problematic already.

      • Privacy Software

        As a means to give our work direction and a clearer purpose, KDE is currently in the process of soul-searching. Here’s my proposal of what we should concentrate and focus on in the coming years. I’d welcome any feedback from the community to make this proposal better, and rally up more support from the community, and others interested.

      • Kirigamization of old KDE applications

        There are quite a few applications in KDE that are severely outdated and deserve a new life.

      • Get Plasma 5.11 Beta on Kubuntu from PPA
  • Distributions

    • SELinux (Security-Enhanced Linux)

      SELinux, or Security-Enhanced Linux, is a part of the Linux security kernel that acts as a protective agent on servers. In the Linux kernel, SELinux relies on mandatory access controls (MAC) that restrict users to rules and policies set by the system administrator. MAC is a higher level of access control than the standard discretionary access control (DAC), and prevents security breaches in the system by only processing necessary files that the administrator pre-approves.

    • Alpine Linux

      Alpine Linux is a small, security-oriented, lightweight Linux distribution based on the musl libc library and BusyBox utilities platform instead of GNU. It operates on bare-metal hardware, in a VM or even on a Raspberry Pi. The distribution is noncommercial and evolved for embedded and server-based workloads, although desktop OS use is possible.

    • Reviews

      • ZorinOS Is a Great Linux Desktop For Any User

        No matter your desktop of choice, chances are you will feel right at home on the Zorin Desktop. With the latest release, ZorinOS has done a remarkable job of taking something that was already impressive and made it more stable, more usable, and more accessible than ever. If you’re a Windows 7 user, dreading having to migrate to Windows 10, you no longer have to sweat that change. Adopt ZorinOS 12 and keep working as you’ve done for years.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • SparkyLinux 5.1 “Nibiru” OS Released, It’s Based on Debian GNU/Linux 10 “Buster”

          The SparkyLinux development team announced the release of SparkyLinux 5.1 rolling operating system for 32-bit and 64-bit computers, an incremental update bringing the latest components and technologies.

          Dubbed “Nibiru,” the SparkyLinux 5.1 images are here only two weeks after the release of SparkyLinux 5.0, and they’ve been synced with the Debian Testing repos as of September 25, 2017, which means that the entire distribution is currently based on the upcoming Debian GNU/Linux 10 “Buster” operating system.

        • Sparky 5.1
        • Tails 3.2 released with several changes and Linux 4.12

          Whenever Mozilla pushes out a new version of its Firefox web browser, you can always guarantee that an update to the Tor Browser and the Tails operating system will be close behind, alas, with Firefox 56 being released on Thursday, Tails 3.2 followed close behind. The release ships with Linux Kernel 4.12.12 which should improve hardware support if you’ve been having any issues, the NVIDIA Maxwell graphics card is a notable bit of kit supported by the new kernel.

        • Keep the Trump administration out of your private life with Tails 3.2 Linux distribution

          As we learned from the great patriot Edward Snowden, the US government can and will spy on you. Not caring about that invasion of privacy, and dismissing it with the flawed statement of “I have nothing to hide,” is flat out idiotic. Regardless of what you do on your computer, or on the internet, your privacy is sacred, and quite frankly, it was earned by our forefathers that fought for our freedoms.

          If you do care about your privacy, and you want to keep the heavy-handed Trump administration or other government agency out of your private business, please know you aren’t powerless. There is a specific Linux-based operating system that aims to protect your privacy from corrupt governments and other evildoers, such as hackers and spies. Called “Tails,” it always runs in a live environment from a DVD or flash drive. In other words, especially with an optical disk, it will help to hide your footprints. Today, version 3.2 sees release.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) Final Beta Ready for Download, Here’s What’s New

            Canonical today released the Final Beta release of its forthcoming Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) operating system, allowing anyone to see what they prepared for this new Ubuntu version that will be hitting the streets on October 19, 2017.

            First and foremost, Ubuntu 17.10 is shipping with a refreshed desktop environment, powered by the latest GNOME 3.26 release, highly customized by Canonical to resemble the look and feel of its deprecated Unity user interface. This is also the first release of Ubuntu to ship without Unity in more than six years.

          • Ubuntu 17.10 Beta 2 Flavours Available to Download

            Pitching up alongside the main Ubuntu 17.10 beta release are new beta builds of the various official Ubuntu flavors. Among the many spins choosing to take part in this round of testing is the marvellous Ubuntu MATE, brilliant Ubuntu Budgie, and, er, Xubuntu.

          • Ubuntu 17.10 Beta 2 Released, This Is What’s New

            Right you, it’s time to fumble around for the nearest USB thumb drive, stick the kettle on, and lean back in that chintzy IKEA chair of yours — Ubuntu 17.10 Beta 2 is now available to download.

            This is the first official testing milestone that the regular version of Ubuntu desktop has taken part in during the ‘Artful Aardvark’ development cycle (it sits out the alpha round of testing).

            That makes this beta download your first formal chance to go hands on and help test everything that’s included.

          • Canonical to end 32-bit installation options with Ubuntu 17.10 Linux

            Ubuntu, arguably the most popular (or, at least, widely used) desktop distribution of Linux, is to drop support for 32-bit installations in favour of 64-bit – some 14 years after the introduction of the AMD64 instruction set.

          • Ubuntu 17.10 for desktop won’t ship a 32-bit version

            Beginning with Ubuntu 17.10, due next month, Canonical will stop building 32-bit versions of its operating system for desktop machines. The move has been pushed by Dimitri Ledkov, a familiar name which cropped up in a Neowin article last year discussing the same topic. If you have a 32-bit machine running Ubuntu you should probably stick with Ubuntu 16.04 and start looking for a replacement device.

          • Ubuntu to stop releasing 32-bit desktop ISOs

            But it seems like not all that many people are using recent builds of Ubuntu to do that… because the developers have decided to make it a bit tougher to install the popular Linux distro on computers with 32-bit processors.

          • Samsung selects Ubuntu 16.04 as primary Linux distro for some ARTIK IoT modules

            Next month, Ubuntu 17.10 will be released. Even after that release, version 16.04 will remain the most recent LTS version. If you aren’t familiar, LTS stands for “Long Term Support,” which quite literally means it is supported by Canonical for a longer period of time. For instance, Ubuntu 16.04 will be supported until 2021, while the newer 17.04 is only supported until 2018.

            Today, Canonical announces that Samsung has selected version 16.04 LTS of the operating system as the primary Linux distro for some of the ARTIK internet of things modules. This is a smart choice by Samsung, because long support is preferable to bleeding edge for an IoT device.

          • Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Now Primary Linux OS of Samsung ARTIK 5 and 7 Smart IoT Modules

            Canonical recently partnered with Samsung to bring its Ubuntu Linux operating system to the Samsung ARTIK 5 and 7 family of smart IoT (Internet of Things) modules used in a wide-range of appliances.

            Samsung decided to enable the long-term supported Ubuntu 16.04 (Xenial Xerus) operating system as primary GNU/Linux distribution for its Samsung ARTIK platform instead of the existing OS, which wasn’t mentioned in the press announcement. Choosing Ubuntu as primary Linux distro is a great move as it lets ARTIK’s developers access various of the supported connectivity options, such as Zigbee, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.

          • Canonical’s eyes are on IoT

            When Mark Shuttleworth founded Canonical in 2004, the idea behind the company was simple – promote the use of Ubuntu Linux as a desktop operating system. Fourteen years later, things have gotten a lot more complicated, as the prominent open source software vendor eyes the IoT market.

            Canonical’s still flying the flag for desktop Linux, but the company’s real business is in the cloud – it claims that Ubuntu accounts for about 60% of all Linux instances in the major public clouds – and it’s hoping to make its mark in the next-buzziest part of the technology sector, the Internet of Things.

            According to Mike Bell, Canonical’s executive vice president for devices and IoT, the way businesses have begun to develop software for IoT devices has been advantageous for them – companies have started to take server or desktop distros and cut them down into software that works on embedded devices. Since Ubuntu is a familiar and well-known framework, it was a natural choice as a starting place.

          • An Ubuntu Kernel Spin Of AMDGPU DC “drm-next-4.15-dc”

            Yesterday was the very exciting news of the AMDGPU DC code finally being called for pulling to DRM-Next for integration in the Linux 4.15 kernel. So far it’s looking like that will indeed happen for Linux 4.15 assuming Linus Torvalds has no objections. If you want to test out this kernel for HDMI/DP audio, Radeon RX Vega display support, atomic mode-setting, or other modern features, here is an Ubuntu kernel spin.

          • Canonical releases final beta of Ubuntu 17.10

            Canonical has released the final beta of Ubuntu 17.10 Artful Aardvark for Desktop, Server, and Cloud products. It represents the last major development before the release candidate which ships a week before the final release, which itself is scheduled for the October 19. Ubuntu 17.10 is not an LTS so it’ll be supported for just nine months.

          • Ubuntu Linux 17.10 ‘Artful Aardvark’ Beta 2 now available to download

            Fall is officially here, and while some people get excited for pumpkin spice lattes and falling leaves, other folks get excited about something far nerdier — Ubuntu. Yes, every October a new version of the Linux-based operating system is released. This year in particular is very significant, as with Ubuntu 17.10, GNOME is replacing Unity as the default desktop environment.

          • Ubuntu 17.10 Beta 2 Released With New Features — Download ISO And Torrent Files Here

            This year’s second Ubuntu release is just around the corner. Codenamed Artful Aardvark, Ubuntu 17.10’s Final Beta has landed and its download links are available for testing. Ubuntu 17.10 final will be released on October 19, 2017.

            You might be knowing that the flagship version of Ubuntu, which now ships with GNOME desktop environment, doesn’t take part in Alpha 1, Alpha 2, and Beta 1 milestone releases. So, in a way, it’s the first, polished chance to try out all the new Ubuntu 17.10 features.

          • Ubuntu to Stop Offering 32-Bit ISO Images, Joining Many Other Linux Distros

            Canonical engineer Dimitri John Ledkov announced on Wednesday that Ubuntu does not plan to offer 32-bit ISO installation images for its new OS version starting with the next release — Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) scheduled for release on October 19.

            The decision comes after month-long discussions on the dwindling market share of 32-bit architectures.

          • Ubuntu 17.10 Final Beta Is Ready For Testing

            Overnight the final beta of Ubuntu 17.10 “Artful Aardvark” was released for Ubuntu proper and its derivative friends.

          • Ubuntu to drop 32bit Desktop ISO images from 17.10 release

            Unsurprisingly, Ubuntu has planned to follow the same path that other major distributions have, and drop 32bit ISO images for upcoming releases.

            Dimitri John Ledkov from Canonical, sent out a message through their mailing list to the release team, instructing them to not release a 32bit ISO for the upcoming Ubuntu release.

          • Full Circle Magazine #125
          • Pay Attention! Ubuntu is Officially Dropping 32-bit Desktop Images
          • Patch CDK #2: Multi arch support — s390x
          • Ubuntu Server Development Summary – 26 Sep 2017
          • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Change Healthcare Announces Enterprise Blockchain Solutions on Hyperleger Fabric
  • Four ways to build open source community in your company

    The Open Community Conference was one of five tracks at the Linux Foundation’s recent Open Source Summit North America. Chaired by Jono Bacon, the tracks covered community management, open source office establishment and open source culture in organizations.

  • Open Source Is leading machine learning

    Applications built based on ML are proliferating quickly. The list of well-known uses is long and growing every day. Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s recommendation engine, and IBM’s Watson are just a few prominent examples. All of these applications sift through incredible amounts of data and provide insights mapped to users’ needs.

    Why is ML exploding in popularity? It is because the foundational technology in ML is openly available and accessible to organizations without specialized skill sets. Open source provides key technologies that make ML easy to learn, integrate and deploy into existing applications. This has lowered the barrier to entry and quickly opened ML to a much larger audience.

  • Mycroft reveals newest open source AI product

    Kansas City-based artificial intelligence startup Mycroft AI revealed Wednesday its newest product during Techcrunch Disrupt’s Product Showcase in San Francisco.

    The firm opened a Silicon Valley office in 2016, yet its headquarters remains in Kansas City.

    Mycroft is an open-source device, similar to Amazon Echo, using natural language processing technology to enable its everyday use in a consumer’s home. With an open-source, open-hardware approach, Mycroft allows users across the globe to develop software and hardware add-ons.

  • Open source code can strengthen security, says GDS

    Government Digital Service (GDS) has outlined that open source coding can be just as safe as closed code – as long as there is the correct guidance.

    Two new documents updated GDS’ guidance on opening up source code, outlining the two big concerns over the process and how businesses can overcome these. Their guidance areas cover when code should be open or closed and security considerations when coding in the open.

  • Open source software built in Ottawa now the ‘de facto standard’ for online classrooms

    What do Harvard University, the United States Department of Defense and a group of monks in Myanmar have in common? A local company and an Ottawa-born software are behind all of their online classrooms.

    Blindside Networks develops an open-source software called BigBlueButton that allows students and teachers to gather in one electronic space. The software plugs into learning management systems such as Moodle, as well as nearly every other major online learning provider.

  • Walmart Labs open sources its tool for bringing React Native to existing mobile apps

    Walmart is placing a big bet on React Native. With Electrode, the company’s Walmart Labs division open sourced the React-based framework that powers Walmart.com’s frontend and today the same group is also launching Electrode Native, its tool for bringing React Native to existing native apps on iOS and Android.

  • Open Source File Share Nextcloud to Add End-to-End Encryption

    There’s another reason for taking a second look at Nextcloud as a replacement for DropBox — or even for Google’s office apps or Microsoft’s Office 356. Full encryption is on the way to the open source host-it-yourself client/server software.

    A year-and-a-half ago when Nextcloud was first forked from ownCloud, it was basically for syncing, storing and sharing files.

    “The elevator pitch,” Nextcloud’s founder and managing director told me a few months back, “was that we were a Dropbox replacement.”

    “Replacement” might not be exactly the right choice of words. It might be more precise to say that it supplied Dropbox functionality, but on the user’s own server. Dropbox is SaaS, and it’s use is on the service’s servers. That can be problematic for regulated industries such as finance and health care that might be required to store sensitive data on premises. It’s also a deal breaker for companies who prefer to keep their secrets on their own metal.

  • Network Functions Virtualization: All Roads Lead to OPNFV

    Previously in our discussion of the Understanding OPNFV book, we provided an introduction to network functions virtualization (NFV) and explored the role of OPNFV in network transformation. We continue our series with a look at chapters 4 and 5, which provide a comprehensive description of the various open source NFV projects integrated by OPNFV and the carrier grade features contributed back to these upstream projects by the community. In this article, we cover these two topics briefly and provide some related excerpts from the Understanding OPNFV book.

  • 3D selfies? What could possibly go wrong?

    The good news, then, is that this particular work only works on faces.

    The bad news? The code’s on GitHub under an MIT licence.

  • Code for Beeline crowdsourcing transport app to be made open source

    The code for crowdsourcing transport app Beeline will be made open source from October onwards, in a move that could benefit app developers looking to develop new mobility solutions.

    [...]

    Announcing GovTech’s plans to make the code open source on Saturday (Sep 30), the director of the agency’s data science division, Liu Feng-Yuan, likened the move to sharing the “recipe” as to how the Government built the Beeline technology.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • Benchmarks Show Firefox 57 Quantum Doing Well, But Chrome Largely Winning

        With the hype this week around Firefox Quantum Beta with its user-interface refinements and more noticeably the performance improvements, I decided to run some benchmarks on my end with a variety of tests comparing Firefox 52 ESR, Firefox 56 stable, Firefox 57 Quantum beta, and Chrome 60. Here are those web browser benchmark results from the Linux x86-64 desktop.

      • Improving the Firefox Privacy Notice

        Back in 2014, we reorganized our privacy policies to make them simple, clear, and usable. That effort was based on simplifying the then 14-page privacy policy around a framework that retained some detail but helped users find information more quickly. We did this because of our Data Privacy Principles that offer us guardrails as we develop our products and services.

        Today I’m happy to announce another revision of our Firefox Privacy Notice, which follows our initial announcement on the topic. We continue to build our products focusing on user control and fulfilling our “no surprises” rule when it comes to privacy. We believe that in context notices with the user experience in mind make notices more understandable and actionable for users.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Mesosphere DC/OS Brings Large-Scale Real-Time Processing to Geospatial Data

      All of a sudden, the planet Earth has become one of the world’s most important sources of real-time data. So the business of gathering that data — climate information, travel and commuting data, crime statistics, sporting event attendance, freeway traffic — is growing on behalf of the growing number of academic institutions, research facilities, emergency response teams, humanitarian and relief organizations, and intelligence agencies (yes, they’re growing too).

  • Databases

    • What’s new in MySQL 8.0

      MySQL, the popular open-source database that’s a standard element in many web application stacks, has unveiled the first release candidate for version 8.0.

    • Alibaba is leading a $27M investment in open source database startup MariaDB

      Alibaba has spent 2017 pushing its cloud computing business and now it is preparing to make its first major investment in a Western startup in the space.

      The Chinese e-commerce giant has agreed to lead a €22.9 million ($27 million) investment in MariaDB, the European company behind one of the web’s most popular open source database servers, according to a source with knowledge of negotiations. The deal has not closed yet, but it is imminent after MariaDB’s shareholders gave their approval this week.

      Neither Alibaba nor MariaDB responded to requests for comment.

      TechCrunch understands that Alibaba is contributing around €20 million with the remaining capital coming from existing backers. The deal values MariaDB at around the €300 million ($354 million) mark and it will see Alibaba’s Feng Yu, a principal engineer within its cloud business, join the startup’s board.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Libre Office 5 review: The open source office alternative

      Libre Office came to be when the community developing Open Office jumped ship several years back and created their own suite on the same code. Without going in to the details of the divorce, suffice it to say Libre Office has fared better than its ancestor, both in terms of development and popularity.

      Like Open Office, Libre Office includes includes six programs: Write (word processing), Calc (spreadsheets), Impress (presentation), Base (database management), Draw (vector graphics) and Math (mathematical formulae). It’s free to use on Windows, Mac, and Linux desktops.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Open Source Initiative

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD Quarterly Status Report – Second Quarter 2017

      Much of the development work done this quarter was not particularly visible, especially the effort needed to ensure the upcoming 11.1 release has as few regressions as possible. Planning is also well under way for the 10.4 maintenance release which will quickly follow it.

      Further work focused on moving the arm architectures’ support closer to tier-1 status and improving documentation. In addition, large changes were made to the src and ports trees.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Stealth Lobbying Campaign Blamed Elizabeth Warren For ‘Socialist Plot’ She Had Nothing To Do With

      Oracle, the California-based software company, appears to be behind the lobbying campaign using Warren as its foil. The campaign targeted Warren as the supposed source of a provision added to the National Defense Authorization Act that would encourage the Department of Defense to use open-source software for non-battlefield purposes.

      “Open-source software” refers to computer programs for which the source code is both transparent and available for use and reuse by anyone, for any purpose, under the conditions defined by a given license. This is different from the proprietary software often purchased by government agencies, where the agency does not have access to the source code.

      For proprietary software, the agency must go back to the company that sold the software and pay for any upgrade, update, patch or fix needed to maintain continued operations. The proprietary model often means that one company has a monopoly on knowledge of military and government systems.

  • Licensing/Legal

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Facebook re-licenses React.js, a new open source tool from Oath, and more news

      Recently, Facebook drew the ire of the open source community by licensing React.js (a widely-used JavaScript library) under a so-called BSD + Patents license. That license drew fears of patent litigation and React.js was rejected by the Apache Foundation and WordPress decided to ditch it. As a result of the backlash, the social media giant has backtracked and re-licensed the library.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Syracuse Unbound releases second open source publication: CNY books and authors

        This is the second publication from the imprint, which offers open-access to the text through a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 International License, which means that the book is available for anyone to download and read for free. At last count the book has been downloaded 1,250 times in 18 countries.

  • Programming/Development

    • Kids can’t code without computers

      Hour of Code is a global movement that aims to demystify code by introducing students and teachers to the basics of programming through direct participation in open source software projects. It currently reaches tens of millions of students in almost 200 countries. Similarly, Kids Can Code teaches children to code, based on the belief that a basic understanding of software engineering provides a set of fundamental skills that is vital to both to the child’s future and that of the global economy. Kids That Code offers unique programs in which children learn computer programming, game development, website creation, electronics, and more. Google’s Code-In is an annual programming competition for high school and secondary school students aged 13-17. The program encourages young people to complete tasks specified by various partnering open source organizations. These are just a few examples of the growing numbers of communities working to introduce and foster interest in software development and open source software. Tools such as Alice, Hackety Hack, Scratch, and others provide a platform along with activities and resources for teaching and learning.

      But there’s a catch: Students can’t participate in any of these valuable programs—nor can they use Alice, Hackety Hack, Scratch, or any other software—if they don’t have a computer.

Leftovers

  • The Repressive, Authoritarian Soul of “Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends”
  • GLOBAL AIRPORT MELTDOWN: Computer systems down from London, Washington and Paris
  • Airlines Suffer Worldwide Delays After Global Booking System Fails

    Airlines worldwide were forced to delay flights Thursday as a global flight-bookings system operated by Amadeus IT Group SA suffered what the company called a “network issue.”

  • Perma.cc stops scholarly link rot

    As research publications increasingly become digital, it’s essential to create a findable and unchanging electronic scholarly record. Researchers are probably familiar with the digital object identifier (DOI), which in URL form provides a persistent link to articles (and more). In addition, many libraries and publishers provide redundant archiving to ensure scholarship is preserved over the long term; however, making sure other types of links in articles work and that a linked webpage represents what the author saw when it was cited is also important. Thinking about my own recent publications, there are probably some links that won’t work five (let alone 20) years from now, or links resolving to webpages that will be changed and won’t accurately represent what I was referencing at the time.

    These problems are usually referred to as link rot and reference rot. Link rot means a URL can no longer be found (e.g., your browser returns a 404 error); reference rot means the information cited at a URL either disappeared or changed.

  • Science

    • Proposed New Mexico science standards edit out basic facts

      In the US, most education standards are set by the states, and local communities are free to develop lesson plans that ensure that their students meet the state’s expectations. Unfortunately, that has often led to education standards becoming ideological battlegrounds, as different groups try to put their stamp on things like history education. Even more unfortunately, battles often break out over basic reality, as scientific topics that people reject for cultural or ideological reasons—think evolution and climate change—can get diluted or eliminated entirely from the state standards.

      In an attempt to make it easier for states to handle science education a bit better, a group of prestigious scientific societies banded together to make their own science education standards. The resulting Next Generation Science Standards were offered to the states free of charge, allowing them to be adopted in their entirety or modified to fit a state’s needs.

    • Elsevier Launching Rival To Wikipedia By Extracting Scientific Definitions Automatically From Authors’ Texts

      Elsevier is at it again. It has launched a new (free) service that is likely to undermine open access alternatives by providing Wikipedia-like definitions generated automatically from texts it publishes.

    • How Citizen Action Saved the New York Public Library

      Grassroots activists thwarted a costly and destructive renovation scheme—but the NYPL still lacks effective governance.

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Ken Burns’ Vietnam War: An Object Lesson in the Failures of the Objective Lens

      If journalism resigns itself to being a “first draft of history,” Ken Burns’ popular PBS documentaries, written by Lynn Novick, have increasingly aspired to—and achieved—a coveted status as popular historical canon. This has, in part, been accomplished by Burns’ choice of cozily American subject matter—jazz, baseball, the Brooklyn Bridge—as well as the calming effect that time and distance provide when it comes to more difficult, inflammatory topics like the Civil War. His success is a rare, fraught feat.

      But how would Burns’ earnest, middlebrow glosses on American history, forever panning slowly across sepia-tinted photos, treat a more contemporaneous, contentious event like the Vietnam War? The answer can be found in a 10-part, 18-hour opus that for the first time ventures outside Burns’ previous editorial and narrative comfort zones. The Cold War lead-up, decade-plus of intense air and ground combat, and subsequent years of national shame/guilt over the war affected the second half of our 20th century like nothing else.

      Teasing out a coherent, honest through-line of such a momentous, highly charged topic is ambitious, to say the least, and Burns rises to the challenge in many ways. Most notable among them: a dedicated effort to include the voices and experiences of the Vietnamese who suffered and/or fought Americans, to create a much more complete, insightful portrait of the war. But in the striving to present all sides and simply lay out the facts for the viewer, Burns nonetheless pulls his punches when it comes to assigning blame and culpability for the disastrous war. As a result, he has produced a sometimes daring, sometimes schmaltzy, richly detailed yet ultimately flawed film about the tragedy and horrors that the United States brought upon itself and inflicted upon Southeast Asia.

    • ACLU to Pentagon: Turn Over Suspected American ISIS Fighter to Civilian Court

      On behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union and its more than 1.6 million members, I write to express deep concern about the detention by the Department of Defense of an American citizen as an “enemy combatant,” and to urge immediate action to ensure that the United States’ conduct with respect to this citizen complies with the Constitution, and domestic and international law. The Defense Department has reportedly been detaining the U.S. citizen, who is suspected of fighting with ISIS, since on or around September 14, after Syrian forces transferred him to U.S. custody, and the U.S. has transferred him to a facility in Iraq. The U.S. government has not publicly disclosed the citizen’s identity, nor has it apparently yet determined whether it will continue to detain the citizen in U.S. military custody, transfer him to another country’s jurisdiction, or transfer him to the federal criminal justice system for prosecution.

    • ACLU to Pentagon: Turn Over Suspected American ISIS Fighter to Civilian Court

      The detention of an unnamed U.S. citizen held by the military as an enemy combatant is increasingly a legal and human-rights emergency, national security lawyers and civil libertarian activists say—and a bellwether case for the unsettled question of what terrorism captures in Donald Trump’s administration will look like.

      The executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, Anthony Romero, wrote on Friday to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to urge the U.S. citizen’s transfer to civilian custody, calling his military detention “unlawful as a matter of domestic law.”

    • Trump Threatens Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea

      Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy North Korea” in his address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 19. That threat violates the UN Charter, and indicates an intent to commit genocide, crimes against humanity, the war crime of collective punishment and international humanitarian law. Moreover, a first-strike use of nuclear weapons would violate international law.

    • Yemen: UN agrees to investigate alleged war crimes amid conflict between Saudi Arabia-led coalition and rebels

      The United Nations has agreed to establish a group of eminent experts to examine all allegations of war crimes and potential human rights violations committed in the conflict in Yemen, and to identify those responsible.

      In a last-minute compromise hammered out between Western powers and Arab countries, the UN Human Rights Council adopted by consensus without a vote, a resolution which the Yemen delegation said it accepted.

      “We believe that this urgent request could no longer be ignored,” Dutch ambassador Monique TG Van Daalen told the Geneva forum.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • California might ban internal combustion engines to meet emissions targets

      While the United States may be slowing its drive to reduce emissions as a nation, California could press for more stringent standards that could end up being as strict those recently planned by some countries.

      The nation’s most populous state may propose a plan to ban internal combustion engines, following France and the United Kingdom, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. California Air Resources board chair Mary Nichols told the publication Gov. Jerry Brown, “has expressed an interest in barring the sale of vehicles powered by internal-combustion engines,” in that state.

      It would follow a trend California has set since the 1960s when CARB was set up and the state started to create its own air quality and emissions standards to curb some of the worst pollution problems in the Los Angeles area. However, blocking the sale of gasoline- and diesel-powered new cars could radically transform not just a market of 2 million new vehicles per year, but also the market of 13 other states and the District of Columbia that follow California’s emissions standards.

    • Ed Morales on Puerto Rico’s Natural and Unnatural Crises

      This week on CounterSpin: As Puerto Rico suffers extraordinary devastation in the wake of Hurricane Maria (and Hurricane Irma), some in the media are asking, “Is Puerto Rico Trump’s Katrina?” Besides viewing the staggering disaster through the lens of Trump’s political fortunes, the question usually turns out to be about Trump’s—like George W. Bush’s—tone-deafness or callousness when it comes to talking about a catastrophe overwhelmingly affecting people of color. A more substantive angle would be to talk about what happened to New Orleans in Katrina’s wake—the displacement, the rush to privatization and gentrification, the phenomenon Naomi Klein has labeled “disaster capitalism.” Pointing out that Trump is behaving boorishly is not the same as digging into those questions, or offering an alternative vision for Puerto Rico’s recovery. We’ll talk about the natural and unnatural crises Puerto Rico is facing with journalist Ed Morales.

    • In the wake of devastating hurricanes, a majority of Americans now believe climate change contributes to extreme weather

      A majority of Americans say that global climate change contributed to the severity of recent hurricanes in Florida and Texas, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. That marks a significant shift of opinion from a dozen years ago, when a majority of the public dismissed the role of global warming and said such severe weather events just happen from time to time.
      In a 2005 Post-ABC poll, taken a month after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf coast and devastated New Orleans, 39 per cent of Americans said they believed climate change helped to fuel the intensity of hurricanes. Today, 55 per cent believe that.
      The shift may in part reflect scientists’ increasing confidence – and their increasing amount of data – in linking certain extreme weather events such as hurricanes to climate change. Many researchers have been unequivocal that while hotter oceans, rising seas and other factors are not the sole cause of any event, the warming climate is contributing to more intense storms and more frequent, more crippling storm surges and flooding.

    • Animal cruelty could result in five-year jail sentence under new law

      People who abuse animals in England will now face up to five years in prison under a tough new crackdown.

      The environment secretary, Michael Gove, said the tenfold increase from the present six-month sentence was needed to combat cruelty.

    • Former VW engine chief arrested as emissions scandal hits 2-year anniversary

      On Thursday, Wolfgang Hatz, former engine chief for Volkswagen and Audi and later the head of research and development at Porsche, was arrested in Munich. With Hatz’s arrest, the slow-moving investigations of Volkswagen Group in the aftermath of the 2015 emissions scandal seem to be gathering momentum, according to reports from German paper Süddeutsche Zeitung and the New York Times.

    • Former VW Engine Chief Arrested, Signaling Widening Emissions Case
  • Finance

    • Trying to Sell TPP by Repackaging It as an Anti-China Pact

      This is why most highly educated people supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), even though they had no clue what was in it. The rationale given for the TPP has constantly shifted in response to the political climate. It was originally pushed for its economic benefits, in terms of more growth and jobs.

      However, no serious analysis could show anything other than trivial benefits for the economy. While removing trade barriers might generally be good for growth, there are relatively few barriers remaining between the United States and the other eleven countries in the TPP. It already has trade agreements with six of these countries.

      In fact, the TPP actually increases protectionist barriers, in the form of longer and stronger patent, copyright and related protections. For some reason, the economic analyses don’t include the negative effects of increasing these protections, even though their impact on the prices of the affected products, most importantly prescription drugs, dwarfs the impact of lowering a tariff of one or two percentage points to zero.

    • Facing poverty, academics turn to sex work and sleeping in cars

      Adjunct professors in America face low pay and long hours without the security of full-time faculty. Some, on the brink of homelessness, take desperate measures

    • Trump Could Save More Than $1 Billion Under His New Tax Plan
    • Puerto Rico Rejects Loan Offers, Accusing Hedge Funds of Trying to Profit Off Hurricanes

      Puerto Rico has rejected a bondholder group’s offer to issue the territory additional debt as a response to the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Officials with Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority said the offer was “not viable” and would harm the island’s ability to recover from the storm.

      The PREPA (Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority) Bondholder Group made the offer on Wednesday, which included $1 billion in new loans, and a swap of $1 billion in existing bonds for another $850 million bond. These new bonds would have jumped to the front of the line for repayment, and between that increased value and interest payments after the first two years, the bondholders would have likely come out ahead on the deal, despite a nominal $150 million in debt relief.

      Indeed, the offer was worse in terms of debt relief than one the bondholder group made in April, well before hurricanes destroyed much of the island’s critical infrastructure.

    • Ireland warns of threat of UK-US trade war

      The US’s planned 209 per cent tariff on Bombardier could serve as a lesson for the UK government over its trade vulnerabilities after Brexit, the Irish taoiseach has warned.

      Speaking ahead of a summit of the EU’s leaders in Tallinn, Leo Varadker said the White House’s move against Bombardier raised the possibility of a US and UK trade war rather than a free trade deal between the two countries.

    • Boris Johnson faces calls to be sacked after ‘breaking Ministerial Code’ with hard Brexit event

      Boris Johnson is facing calls to be sacked over allegations he abused his position by using government resources to host a hard Brexit event at the Foreign Office.

      The Foreign Secretary is accused of breaching the Ministerial Code by arranging a launch event on government property for the Institute for Free Trade – a new eurosceptic think tank being led by Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan.

      Mr Hannan was a prominent figure in the Vote Leave campaign. He has previously called the NHS a “mistake” and said the minimum wage should be scrapped.

    • E-Commerce: Some Developing Countries Push Back On Idea Of New WTO Rules

      While the profile of electronic commerce is rising in diverse international fora, some developing countries are saying they do not want to discuss a new negotiating mandate for e-commerce rules at the World Trade Organization. The current work programme on e-commerce is still adequate, they find, and the WTO Ministerial Conference in December should address more pressing issues, such as agriculture, or completing the Doha Development Round negotiations.

    • South Korea joins China in banning coin offerings

      South Korea announced a broad ban on initial coin offerings on Friday, following the lead of China, which banned the practice earlier this month.

      “The Financial Services Commission said all kinds of initial coin offerings (ICO) will be banned as trading of virtual currencies needs to be tightly controlled and monitored,” Reuters reports. Anyone who issues ICOs in South Korea will face “stern penalties,” Korean authorities announced.

      “There is a situation where money has been flooded into an unproductive and speculative direction,” said Kim Yong-beom, vice chairman of the commission.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Baidu Invites China’s Cybercops to Label, Rebut Fake News

      Baidu Inc. is building a system to allow China’s cybercops to spot and fix “online rumors” deemed a threat to stability, allowing police agencies to insert themselves directly into everything from its search results to discussion forums.

    • Twitter Blasted for ‘Inadequate’ Response to Suspicious Activity During Election
    • The False Dream of a Neutral Facebook

      The fake news that ran rampant on Facebook was a symptom of a larger issue. The real problem lies at the very heart of Facebook’s most successful product: Perhaps virality and engagement cannot be the basis for a ubiquitous information service that acts as a “force for good in democracy.”

    • The Rise of the New McCarthyism

      Make no mistake about it: the United States has entered an era of a New McCarthyism that blames nearly every political problem on Russia and has begun targeting American citizens who don’t go along with this New Cold War propaganda.

      [...]

      The real winners in this New McCarthyism appear to be the neoconservatives who have leveraged the Democratic/liberal hatred of Trump to draw much of the Left into the political hysteria that sees the controversy over alleged Russian political “meddling” as an opportunity to “get Trump.”

      Already, the neocons and their allies have exploited the anti-Russian frenzy to extract tens of millions of dollars more from the taxpayers for programs to “combat Russian propaganda,” i.e., funding of non-governmental organizations and “scholars” who target dissident Americans for challenging the justifications for this New Cold War.

      The Washington Post, which for years has served as the flagship for neocon propaganda, is again charting the new course for America, much as it did in rallying U.S. public backing for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and in building sympathy for abortive “regime change” projects aimed at Syria and Iran. The Post has begun blaming almost every unpleasant development in the world on Russia! Russia! Russia!

    • The MSM’s Anti-Russia Bias

      This is how the New York Times avoids having to say anything positive about life in the Soviet Union or about socialism. They would have readers believe that it was the loss of the likes of Czechoslovakia or Hungary et al. that upset the Russian people, not the loss, under Gorbachev’s perestroika, of a decent standard of living for all, a loss affecting people’s rent, employment, vacations, medical care, education, and many other aspects of the Soviet welfare state.

      Accompanying this review is a quote from a 1996 Times review of Gorbachev’s own memoir, which said: “It mystifies Westerners that Mikhail Gorbachev is loathed and ridiculed in his own country. This is the man who pulled the world several steps back from the nuclear brink and lifted a crushing fear from his countrymen, who ended bloody foreign adventures [and] liberated Eastern Europe. … Yet his repudiation at home could hardly be more complete. His political comeback attempt in June attracted less than 1 percent of the vote.”

    • Watchdog: OPM Denied 20 Percent of Agency Requests to Let Political Appointees ‘Burrow In’

      Federal agencies generally followed the rules and refrained from exerting political pressure when converting appointees into career positions, according to a new report, which audited the very few cases of “burrowing in” since 2010.

      The Office of Personnel Management approved 78 conversions of political appointees between Jan. 1, 2010, and March 17, 2016, according to the Government Accountability Office, as is required by federal law. Agencies converted seven employees without approval, but OPM conducted post-appointment reviews for the cases in which those workers were still on the rolls. In all of those cases, OPM retroactively denied the conversions.

    • “The Rule of Law Such As Ours” (And as Imposed in Catalonia)

      The Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, referring to the “illegal” Catalan referendum on independence slated to take place on October 1, opined, “This illegal plan of rupture has no place in a democratic state under the rule of law such as ours.” Not famous for intellectual agility, Mr Rajoy has cack-handedly drawn attention to what his government calls “rule of law”, a key issue in the present situation and one that affects not just Catalonia but the whole of Spain.

    • Health Secretary Tom Price Is Out Over Air Travel Scandal

      Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price stepped down Friday, in the midst of a snowballing scandal over his repeated use of taxpayer funds for extravagant air travel while in office, including for trips that combined government and personal business.

      “Secretary of Health and Human Services Thomas Price offered his resignation earlier today and the President accepted,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement late Friday afternoon. She added that Trump plans to make deputy assistant secretary for health and director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Don J. Wright acting secretary effective Friday night.

    • West Papua independence petition is rebuffed at UN

      The UN’s decolonisation committee will not accept a petition signed by 1.8 million West Papuans calling for independence, saying West Papua’s cause is outside the committee’s mandate.

      In New York on Tuesday, the exiled West Papuan leader Benny Wenda presented the petition – banned by the Indonesian government, but smuggled across Papua and reportedly endorsed by 70% of the contested province’s population – to the UN’s decolonisation committee, known as the C24 and responsible for monitoring the progress of former colonies towards independence.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Censorship board, stakeholders to meet

      Preparations for the Censorship Board’s first stakeholders meeting scheduled for next Wednesday in Harare are at an advanced stage. The main purpose of the meeting is to establish rapport between the board and its stakeholders and the proposal of a new name for the board. The board’s chairman, former Cabinet minister, educationist and historian Cde Aeneas Chigwedere said the meeting would be held at the ZRP Golf Club.

    • NCR Podcast: Tom Roberts and David Gibson on Catholic censorship

      NCR’s Tom Roberts and David Gibson of Fordham University discuss an unsettling pattern of Catholic writers and scholars being disinvited from speaking engagements and adjunct positions due to intimidation from far-right Catholic groups.

    • Facebook’s Silencing of Refugees Reveals Dangers of Censorship Technologies

      Countless Rohingya refugees have tried to record the ethnic cleansing of their communities by turning to Facebook, the social network that promised to give a voice to the voiceless. Rather than finding solidarity, they face censorship, with Facebook deleting their stories and blocking their accounts. The Rohingya are a majority-Muslim ethnic group primarily living in Buddhist-majority Myanmar. A recent wave of government-sponsored violence has driven an estimated 500,000 Rohingya from Myanmar since August.

      Facebook’s mistake shows the danger of censorship and raises the question of which group might be targeted next. When vendors and websites claim to have the tools to target unwanted speech, we need to ask what biases they are bringing to the task.

    • Kozak: Trigger warnings, censorship and the Fort Lewis College experience [full-length]

      Over the past five or so years, trigger warnings, whether found on course syllabuses or announced during classes to warn of a film’s or a reading’s content, have initiated a discussion regarding their use on today’s college campuses. Trigger warnings are claimed to be beneficial in alerting students to course content that might precipitate an unwelcomed, intense emotional response and, therefore, they are said to protect students from discomfort.

    • EU internet policing proposals spark free speech concerns

      Vera Jourova says she’s asking internet companies to do more to stop online hate speech, and that request is not just in her capacity as the European Union’s commissioner for justice. Last year, she chose to close down her own Facebook account following a nonstop stream of online abuse. “It was the highway for hatred and I am not willing to support it,” Jourova told a news conference on Thursday. “I have still not [re-]opened it.”

    • How Can A Video Game Company DMCA A Patreon Page For An Emulator? DMCA 1201 Strikes Again

      You may have heard the story earlier this week that the video game company Atlus had issued a DMCA takedown over a Patreon page for the creators of RPCS3 — an open source PlayStation 3 emulator, because people could use that emulator to play the Atlus game Persona 5. An awful lot of people immediately said that this was a crazy DMCA takedown, and it’s clear that a Patreon page is not violating the copyright of Persona 5 itself. And it is messed up, but perhaps not for the reasons most people are thinking. A DMCA takedown here may actually be legitimate under the law. Rather than a bogus takedown, this may be yet another example of just how fucked up the DMCA is.

    • Mel Brooks and the philistinism of PC
    • Missouri Should Try Listening to Protesters Instead of Attacking Them

      The ACLU of Missouri is suing police for its aggressive police response to people protesting Jason Stockley’s acquittal.

      “I think everyone deserves the same rights as I do. I just want peace and justice,” says Maleeha Ahmad, one of the protesters who was pepper-sprayed by police officers in St. Louis last week.

      Ms. Ahmad has joined a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Missouri against the city of St. Louis, arguing that the militarized and overtly aggressive police response to people protesting Jason Stockley’s acquittal violated the protesters’ First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, and due process rights. The ACLU of Missouri also sent a letter to officials in St. Louis reminding them that law enforcement is obligated to refrain from unnecessary and disproportionate use of force against nonviolent protests.

      For the past nine days, protesters in St. Louis have decried a Missouri judge’s decision to acquit Stockley, a former St. Louis police officer, of first-degree murder for the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith, a 24-year-old Black man. The demonstrations called for justice and an end to the cycle of police brutality that is enabled by court decisions amounting to little more than a slap on the wrist.

    • Why the left must confront the cult of identity politics

      Little wonder, then, that so many on the liberal-left are hostile to the principle of free speech. When words are so readily conflated with violence, and when to debate contentious issues is seen as a form of ‘normalisation’, we should hardly be surprised to find a professor at Princeton University delivering a lecture entitled ‘Fuck Free Speech’ to commemorate Constitution Day.

    • BuzzFeed steps up legal fight for feds’ info on Trump dossier

      BuzzFeed filed a motion to compel the three agencies, Comey and Clapper to respond to subpoenas the media firm issued after it was sued for libel by Russian internet entrepreneur Aleksej Gubarev. He was mentioned in the dossier, which was compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele and contained information the Russians were said to be collecting to try to blackmail Trump.

      Several news outlets, including POLITICO, are suing under the Freedom of Information Act to get records about how the federal government tried to vet the claims in the dossier. However, BuzzFeed’s move could have more legal heft because the web publisher is claiming it needs the information to defend itself in the libel suit, pending in federal court in Miami.

    • Sirius XM Uses DMCA To Memory Hole Archive Of Howard Stern’s Interviews With Donald Trump

      The Ars piece quotes a bunch of lawyers discussing whether it is fair use — with many leaning towards it being fair use, but some arguing it’s not that clear cut. I would argue that the newsworthy nature of it and the purpose of the archive push it pretty strongly towards being transformative (the use is quite different than the initial use). And, similarly, the fact that this clearly wouldn’t “harm” the market for the Howard Stern show, would weight heavily towards fair use — though, with so many fair use cases, you never know how a judge will see things (and you could make arguments against fair use if you tried hard enough).

      Factba.se also says that it’s trying to resolve this amicably with Sirius XM and to properly “preserve the record.” And that raises some other questions. Copyright law has Section 108, for libraries and archives to preserve important works in a manner for research purposes that are open to the public. Among the rules under 108 is that the archive must determine “after reasonable investigation” that a copy of the work cannot be obtained at a fair price — which appears to be the case here. However, there are also some other hoops to jump through, including posting a specific notice with the archive to qualify (which seems unlikely to have happened). Furthermore, it’s unlikely that a for-profit entity can avail itself of Section 108′s protections. There is one part of 108 — put in place specifically for Vanderbilt’s TV news archive, that make it easier to archive “audiovisual news programs” but again, is Howard Stern’s show a “news program?” That would be a fun question to test in court.

    • ‘Daily Stormer’ Termination Haunts Cloudflare in Online Piracy Case

      While the decision is understandable from an emotional point of view, it’s quite a statement to make as the CEO of one of the largest Internet infrastructure companies. Not least because it goes directly against what many saw as Cloudflare’s core values.

      For years on end, Cloudflare has been asked to remove terrorist propaganda, pirate sites, and other controversial content. Each time, Cloudflare replied that it doesn’t take action without a court order. No exceptions.

      In addition, Cloudflare repeatedly stressed that it was impossible for them to remove a website from the Internet, at least not permanently. It would only require a simple DNS reconfiguration to get it back up and running.

    • US asylum grant is a good thing for Amos Yee: Lawyer Alfred Dodwell
    • Tea and Tiananmen: Inside China’s new censorship machine
    • China’s online censorship crackdown continues apace
    • A Weekend Of Protests, Censorship And NFL Political Footballs
    • Banned Books Week: Author Tanya Lee Stone on Why Censorship is Heartbreaking
    • Professors explore censorship around the world during Banned Books Week
    • Selected Stories Preview of Censored 2018: Press Freedoms in a “Post-Truth” World
  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • U.S. Shipping Lobby: Letting Foreign Ships Bring Goods to Puerto Rico Could Endanger National Security

      Allowing foreign ships to bring goods to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico would be a grave threat to national security, warned a handful of American shipping companies who have the trade routes locked down thanks to a century-old law.

      They wanted to see that law left in place, thank you very much. Much to their discontent, President Donald Trump’s administration announced Thursday morning that it would temporarily waive the law, known as the Jones Act.

      Puerto Rico, suffering from the combined forces of economic collapse, debt-driven austerity, and Hurricane Maria’s devastation, faces restrictions on imports from foreign registered ships under the Jones Act, a law supported by a small but powerful group of American companies that dominate U.S.-Puerto Rico shipping routes.

      The Jones Act, created over 100 years ago to shore up the domestic shipbuilding industry, imposes stiff fines on foreign-built and registered ships that move cargo between U.S. ports. (Foreign ships are allowed into port if they originated from a foreign country, but not if they docked in another U.S. port first.)

    • Unfashionable Causes

      Why has the international community ignored the plight of the Anglophone Cameroonians? Well the UK, as the former colonial power, finds the whole subject embarrassing and has no interest at all in interfering. African governments are notoriously unwilling to call each other out on human rights abuse. Plus the entire colonial legacy of the divide between Anglophone and Francophone West Africa is a neuralgic point in the region, affecting many relationships between rulers and states. Persecution of an Anglophone minority by a Francophone government is an issue that, if raised within the remit of the regional organisation, ECOWAS, would cause a very large can of worms to be opened. Without any powerful voices speaking up for the Anglophone Cameroonians, the United Nations is under no pressure to be involved.

    • The UK press is already ignoring the 11 suspected neo-Nazis arrested in anti-terror raids yesterday

      11 men were arrested across the UK yesterday as part of a probe into the banned far-right group National Action.

      Six of the men were in north-west England, two in Wales, two in West Yorkshire and one man in Wiltshire. It was clearly a big police operation.

      It’s important to note these men were arrested under the UK’s anti-terrorism laws and some were suspected of preparing terrorist acts.

    • No Justice At Guantánamo After 250 Days Of Trump – OpEd

      We marked a sad milestone this week — 250 days since the start of Donald Trump’s presidency. Across the spectrum of political life, the disaster that is Donald Trump continues to damage the US at home and to tarnish America’s reputation abroad, and, while there are too many problems to list, certain recent issues stand our for us —the persistence with which Trump continues to try to implement his outrageous Muslim ban, his racist targeting of black sportsmen for what he perceives as their lack of patriotism, and his warmongering against North Korea at the United Nations.

      Islamophobia, racism and warmongering are always to be despised when they raise their ugly heads at the highest levels of government, and when it comes to our particular topic of concern — the prison at Guantánamo Bay — these signs from Trump do not bode well for our aim of seeing Guantánamo closed once and for all.

      It is true that Trump has not yet managed to do anything stupendously negative regarding Guantánamo, despite threatening to do so. And so, for example, he has not officially rescinded President Obama’s executive order calling for the prison’s closure, and has not sent any new prisoners there, despite very evidently wanting to do so.

    • Court Tells DEA To Stop Pushing Burden Of Proof Back On Claimants In Forfeiture Case

      The government has lost its claim to money lifted from two men by the DEA at the Cleveland airport. Despite agents being super-sure the money was either drug profits or intended for drug purchases, no charges were brought. But the DEA decided to keep the money — $31,000 from one and $10,000 from the other — for itself.

      The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals says not so fast. The decision [PDF] lets the government know it’s jumping the gun on claiming sole ownership of this lifted cash. The opinion starts out with a brief description of how the cash-focused Drug Enforcement Agency starts each airport workday.

    • Prominent Putin critic Alexei Navalny arrested again
    • The Landscapes of Capital

      And then there is the increasingly visible racism of the U.S. I watched when black or Arab workers carried bags or moved carts. I saw so many of those put upon white faces tighten ever so slightly. The animosity is in the air. On the TVs, and there are TVs everywhere in the U.S., large screens EVERYWHERE. It is the only thing more common than cops. And on TV were endless photos of North Korea and the ‘Rocket Man’, or there were football games. One or the other. Jesus but football is popular. And there is no other sport in the U.S. as saturated in jingoistic pro war rhetoric and symbolism. And I am reminded that this is a game proven to cause irreparable brain damage. That said, the, perhaps, hidden dialectic in this most militaristic of sports is the Kaepernick protests, which have spread. Sports always contains within it a kind of potential for such synthesis of contradiction (see Dave Zirin’s recent writing). So mostly the comments one overheard were about football. Or about how fed up people were with that Kim Jung whatshisname…hell, get rid of that fucker. Trump speaking of “Nambia.” An imaginary country that exists in that private colonial map in his mind. And then a group of young Christians sat down near me at the gate. They seemed to be focused on ‘the holy spirit’. ‘Oh man’, one girl said, loudly, ‘I felt the holy spirit today’. I could feel it all day, she said, rather too loudly. I looked at her. She was blonde, refried, maybe in her late twenties, and wore spandex pants and Rebok trainers and a blue t-shirt with some other athletic brand name scrawled across the front of it. She was loud. Oh and she kept eating M&Ms.

    • Jews in Texas Already in Hiding From Neo-Nazis; Holiday Service Held at Secret Location

      There’s an apocryphal story from WWII that when the Nazis started requiring the Jews under their control to wear gold stars, the Danish King donned one himself and suggested his subjects do the same. It’s an inspiring story, and it ought to be true, but it is mere folklore in the service of the more mundane historical truth: the Danes saved most of their Jewish population from the Holocaust, but by more conventional methods.

      Early warning of Germany’s intentions and a negotiated safe passage through Sweden were why nearly 90 percent of the Danish Jews survived the occupation of Denmark. But it is also true that siding with their Jews in 1943 carried substantial risk for the Danes, who had refused since the German invasion of Denmark in 1940—a “war” that took all of two hours—to enact anti-Jewish measures suggested by the occupying forces and gotten away with it because Danes were “Nordic Aryans,” considered capable of governing themselves and offering no threat.

    • French Activist: Emmanuel Macron is “Younger, Prettier” Face of Anti-Worker Reforms & a Police State

      As we broadcast from Paris, we examine political turmoil in France, where it has been less than five months since the centrist political figure Emmanuel Macron defeated Marine Le Pen to become France’s youngest president ever. While Macron won in a landslide, opinion polls show most French voters now oppose how he has governed. On Saturday, leftist opposition leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon led up to 150,000 people in a protest against Macron and his attempt to rewrite France’s labor law. Meanwhile, human rights groups are criticizing Macron for pushing a new anti-terror law that would make permanent key parts of France’s state of emergency, which went into effect after the 2015 Paris attacks. “The situation in France is highly volatile, both socially, economically and politically,” says our guest Yasser Louati, a French human rights and civil rights activist.

    • ‘You Should Be Outraged,’ Air Force Academy Head Tells Cadets About Racism On Campus

      After racial slurs were scrawled outside black students’ doors at the U.S. Air Force Academy’s preparatory school, Superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria gathered all 4,000 cadets in a hall Thursday so they could hear one message: Treat people with dignity and respect — or get out.

      “That kind of behavior has no place at the prep school, it has no place at USAFA, and it has no place in the United States Air Force,” Silveria said, in a speech that has found an enthusiastic reception after it was recorded and published online. “You should be outraged not only as an airman, but as a human being.”

      Speaking to a crowd of some 5,500 people that included faculty, coaches, airstrip personnel and senior officers and staff of the 10th Air Base Wing that includes the academy, Silveria urged them not to let their institution be taken away from them.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Ending net neutrality will end the Internet as we know it

      Sometimes there’s a nugget of truth to the adage that Washington policymakers are disconnected from the people they purport to represent. This summer’s sustained grassroots defense of network neutrality, including a National Day of Action, is a good example. Millions of Americans have now contacted the Federal Communications Commission and Congress in opposition to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to wipe away the open internet.

      It is a stirring example of democracy in action. With the Internet’s future as a platform for innovation and democratic discourse on the line, a coalition of grassroots and diverse groups joined with technology firms to insist that the FCC maintain its 2015 open internet (or “net neutrality”) rules.

    • AT&T Seeks Supreme Court Review on Net Neutrality Rule
    • Cox starts charging data cap overage fees in California

      Cox has started charging overage fees to customers who exceed their data limits in California, bringing the nation’s third largest cable company a bit closer to nationwide deployment of data caps.

      Previously, Cox’s California customers technically had monthly caps, but there was no enforcement of overage fees. Moving forward, Cox subscribers in the state will pay $10 for each additional block of 50GB after they pass the monthly cap.

    • AT&T’s wireless home Internet, with 160GB cap, is now in 18 states

      AT&T has brought wireless home Internet to nine more states, offering rural and underserved customers a slightly faster replacement for old DSL lines.

      “Our Fixed Wireless Internet service delivers a home Internet connection with download speeds of at least 10Mbps and upload speeds of at least 1Mbps,” AT&T said in an announcement yesterday. “The connection comes from a wireless tower to a fixed antenna on customers’ homes or businesses. This is an efficient way to deliver high-quality, high-speed Internet to customers living in underserved rural areas.”

    • Just How Unpopular, How Wrong on the Facts, How Misguided Is the FCC Proposal to Rollback Network Neutrality and Broadband Privacy?
    • FCC chair accused of ignoring investment data in push to end net neutrality

      In his ongoing push to get rid of net neutrality rules, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai claimed this month that the rules caused capital investment in wireless networks to drop in 2016. But in doing so, Pai hasn’t addressed data from earlier years that doesn’t fit his anti-net neutrality narrative.

      “The most concerning emerging issue we are seeing is that investment in wireless networks was down significantly in 2016,” Pai said in a speech at Mobile World Congress on September 12. “According to the UBS Wireless 411 report, in fact, investment was down 9 percent, a huge drop outside of a recession.”

      Eliminating net neutrality rules and the related classification of broadband providers as common carriers will reverse the trend, Pai predicted. “In our Restoring Internet Freedom proceeding, the FCC is currently examining whether we should change our Internet regulations in order to encourage greater deployment and investment and bring digital opportunity to more Americans,” he said.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Chinese High-Tech Startups: Now More Copied Than Copying

      Techdirt has been pointing out for a while that the cliché about Chinese companies being little more than clever copycats, unable to come up with their own ideas, ceased to be true years ago. Anyone clinging to that belief is simply deluding themselves, and is likely to have a rude awakening as Chinese high-tech companies continue to advance in global influence. China’s advances in basic research are pretty clear, but what about business innovation? That’s an area that the US has traditionally prided itself on being the world leader. However, an interesting article in the South China Morning Post — a Hong Kong-based newspaper owned by the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which has a market capitalization of $400 billion — explores how it’s Chinese ideas that are now being copied…

    • US Misrepresentations Called Out By Antigua In Online Gambling Case At WTO

      The United States now owes Antigua some $200 million in damages, and has offered only about $2 million. Now Antigua will formally request negotiations with the US trade office. At stake is Antigua’s authorisation by the WTO panel to recover its damages by failing to protect US intellectual property rights there, which it again reluctantly threatened to do if there is no resolution.

    • ARIPO, Japan Government To Train 1,000 People In IP Systems In Africa [Ed:
      Indoctrination in Africa for the very system that subjugates them. The West loves to lecture Africa about how it's poor because it doesn't do IP, rather than tell it that it's Western "IP" that keeps it poor.]

      Under the Japan Funds-in-Trust for Africa for IP systems (FIT/IP), the Japanese are spending up to 1.6 million Swiss Francs annually to conduct the trainings among ARIPO member countries, the main aim being to raise intellectual property literacy and build capacity in Africa.

    • Idea v. Expression: Game Studio Bluehole Gets Its Fur Up Over Epic Games Putting 100 Vs. 100 Player Battle Royale Into Game

      Of all the things that most people get wrong about copyright law, the idea/expression dichotomy has to rank near the top. The confusion over this is easily explained by the pervasive ownership culture that has emerged organically from an intellectual property ecosystem that only moves in the direction of more protectionism. Because of that culture, most people simply assume that the creation of the idea is itself a copyrightable thing, rather than the reality which is that copyright only applies to specific expression. The useful example at hand is that one cannot copyright a superhero named after an animal that wears a mask and a cape, but one can copyright Batman, particularly any books, comics, or movies in which Batman is depicted.

      As already stated, this reality evades many people. But it probably shouldn’t evade those in industries dominated by copyright, such as the video game industry. Despite that, Bluehole, developers of the wildly popular PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds developer, appears to have its fur up over another studio, Epic Games, releasing a “battle royale” game mode for its Fortnite title.

    • Trademarks

      • Case Shows European Luxury Brands Must Be Popular In Japan To Be Protected There

        In a recent decision, the Opposition Board of the Japan Patent Office dismissed an opposition filed by CFUB Sisley, a French producer of cosmetics and fragrances founded in 1976, against the word mark “SISLOY” written in a standard character.

        The case shows that the status of European luxury brand will not automatically enjoy broader scope of protection in Japan unless the brand obtains a high degree of popularity and reputation among Japanese consumers.

    • Copyrights

      • Kmart faces copyright lawsuit for selling the wrong banana costume

        A small company called Rasta Imposta has sued Kmart after the retailer stopped carrying the company’s banana costume for the 2017 Halloween season. Kmart switched to another company’s banana suit, and Rasta Imposta charges that the rival design infringes its copyright.

      • How The Supreme Court’s Continued Misunderstanding Of Copyright Ruined Halloween

        Earlier this year we wrote about a truly awful Supreme Court ruling concerning whether or not the design of cheerleader costumes could be covered by copyright. As we had explained earlier, this ruling could have a major impact on a variety of industries. The key issue is that “useful articles” are not supposed to be subject to copyright. Historically, that’s always meant that the actual design of clothing or costumes is not protected by copyright law. And that’s been a really good thing. It’s inspired much more competition and innovation over the years in the clothing world.

        As we noted when the ruling came out, allowing the copyright on cheerleader uniforms to stand, with a weird “new test” (basically whether you can “separate” the design from the useful article, and if the separated design is copyright-eligible), would lead to a lot of lawsuits pushing the boundaries of that test. And that’s exactly what’s happening. And it may ruin Halloween this year. Because suddenly, Halloween costume designers are starting to sue. Specifically, a costume maker named (no joke) “Rasta Imposta” is suing K-mart for having the audacity to sell someone else’s banana costume. Really.

      • The War on General-Purpose Computing Turns on the Streaming Media Box Community

        For most of the lifetime of Kodi since its release as XMBC in 2002, it was an obscure piece of free software that geeks used to manage their home media collections. But in the past few years, the sale of pre-configured Kodi boxes, and the availability of a range of plugins providing access to streaming media, has seen the software’s popularity balloon—and made it the latest target of Hollywood’s copyright enforcement juggernaut.

        We’ve seen this in the appearance of streaming media boxes as an enforcement priority in the U.S. Trade Representative’s Special 301 Report, in proposals for new legislation targeting the sale of “illicit” media boxes, and in lawsuits that have been brought on both sides of the Atlantic to address the “problem” that media boxes running Kodi, like any Web browser, can be used to access media streams that were not authorized by the copyright holder. We’ve also seen it in the big TV networks’ vehement, sometimes disingenuous opposition to the U.S. law and regulations that mandate effective competition in the cable set-top box market.

      • Copyright Troll Carl Crowell Ups The Ante: Now Demands Accused Pirates Hand Over Their Hard Drives

        Which is, of course, entirely besides the point. And, it should be noted, taking Crowell at his word after he has spent the better part of the decade being a factory for settlement threat letters built on flimsy evidence and fear doesn’t seem like a reasonable course of action, either. Whatever you think of Crowell and his copyright trolling ways, there are proper and improper tactics to use in a copyright infringement case. Demanding the receipt of private property that almost certainly contains highly private information about what is merely an accused copyright infringer is plainly bonkers. It’s worth repeating at this point that it isn’t only Crowell’s victims crying foul, but also those on the other side who have worked with him on his copyright efforts.

      • Unpublished EU study casts doubt on displacement of sales by online infringement, but the reality is nuanced
      • EU Proposes Take Down Stay Down Approach to Combat Online Piracy

        The European Commission published a set of guidelines today outlining how online service providers should tackle illegal content, including piracy. The recommendation follows the notice-and-stay-down principle, proposing proactive automated filters and measures against repeat infringers.

      • Football Coach Retweets, Gets Sued for Copyright Infringement

        Pennsylvania-based King’s College and head football coach Jeffery Knarr are being sued for copyright infringement. Sports psychologist and author Dr. Keith Bell alleges that both committed offenses when Knarr retweeted a page from his book, that was initially tweeted by someone else, almost two years ago.

09.29.17

Battistelli’s Club Med at the EPO – Part III: Angola and the Portuguese “Laundromat”

Posted in Africa, Europe, Patents at 9:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Coat of arms of AngolaSummary: This part looks at allegations that the former colony Angola is exporting corruption back to Portugal

THE EPO is about to sign some more papers with Angola (see part 1), one African country which both António Campinos and Benoît Battistelli are connected to (see part 2).

Before we say more about the Angolan connection (to the EPO, Portugal and France) we wish to introduce readers to this background information.


As many people will already know, Angola is a former Portuguese colony.

“Before we say more about the Angolan connection (to the EPO, Portugal and France) we wish to introduce readers to this background information.”After it became independent in November 1975 the country was plagued by a long period of civil war which continued with some interludes until 2002. The civil war was essentially a power struggle between two former liberation movements, the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). The conflict served as a surrogate battleground for the Cold War and it was characterised by large-scale direct and indirect international involvement by the Soviet Union and Cuba (on the side of the MPLA) and South Africa and the United States (on the side of UNITA).

As reported by the New York Times in June 2017, a reconstruction and oil boom following the civil war presented the politically-connected with a golden opportunity for self-enrichment. In an economy driven by President José Eduardo dos Santos (of the MPLA), his inner circle of family and allies have amassed extraordinary wealth. (c/f Angola’s Corrupt Building Boom: ‘Like Opening a Window and Throwing Out Money’)

In August 2017 the political situation in Angola got some coverage in the international media due to the elections being held there.

Transparency International took advantage of the occasion to issue a statement with the headline “Elections in Angola: time to tackle corruption”.

According to Transparency International: “Corruption has for too long enriched a small ruling elite while more than two thirds of the country’s population live in poverty. Angola is the archetype of a captured state. It scores only 18 and ranks 164 out of 176 on the 2016 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index indicating rampant corruption.”

The theme of corruption in Angola was explored further by the New York Times in an article with the headline “Portugal Dominated Angola for Centuries. Now the Roles Are Reversed” which was published shortly before the August elections.

“After it became independent in November 1975 the country was plagued by a long period of civil war which continued with some interludes until 2002.”This New York Times article described how the former colony whose elite are being enriched by oil revenues is now exporting corruption back to the colonial motherland.

The article quotes Ana Gomes, a Member of the European Parliament from Portugal’s governing Socialist Party: “In Angola, they call Portugal the laundromat. It’s because it is.”

According to the New York Times: “Angola is often listed as one of the world’s most corrupt nations. And Portugal has been singled out for its laxness in reining in money laundering and bribery, particularly in its dealings with Angolans, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the research and policy organization of the world’s richest countries.”

Relations between Portugal and Angola have been strained recently by the indictment of Angola’s Vice-President, Manuel Vicente, in February 2017. Vicente is a protégé and close associate of the controversial Angolan President José Eduardo Dos Santo who has ruled the country since 1979. Vicente first came to prominence following his appointment as CEO of Sonangol, the parastatal oil and gas company which has been used by Dos Santos over the decades to further his own political and business interests and those of his family.

Reports of interest:

A statement from the Prosecutor General’s office in Lisbon said that Manuel Vicente paid a bribe of €760,000 ($810,000) to a Portuguese prosecutor who was investigating previous allegations of corruption against him. The Vice-President was accused of, among other things, laundering money by buying apartments in the “Angolans’ building” on the coast of Cascais. He has denied the allegations.

“Relations between Portugal and Angola have been strained recently by the indictment of Angola’s Vice-President…”In a separate development it was reported in July 2017 that three lawyers and four people including a former board member of the Portuguese national airline TAP had been charged with illegal activities related to an “Angolan money laundering scam” involving and Angolan company Sonair which is a subsidiary of Sonangol.

The National Airline in Portugal is accused of a corruption scheme with officials from Angolan Public Oil Company Sonangol. That was the headline of an article from this summer.

Top TAP director accused in Angola money laundering scam. That’s another report from around the same time.

The current CEO of Sonangol is Ms. Isabel Dos Santos, daughter of the President, who was appointed to this position in 2016.

In 2012, Dos Santos was ranked by Forbes as one of “the five worst leaders in Africa”.

“In a separate development it was reported in July 2017 that three lawyers and four people including a former board member of the Portuguese national airline TAP had been charged with illegal activities related to an “Angolan money laundering scam” involving and Angolan company Sonair which is a subsidiary of Sonangol.”Forbes had this to say about Dos Santos: “To his discredit, José Eduardo has always run his government like it’s his personal, privately-owned investment holding company. His cousin serves as the Angola’s vice president, and his daughter, Isabel Dos Santos is arguably the wealthiest woman in the country.”

The local media in Angola has described his presidency as “the epicentre of corruption”.

EPO Staff Representatives Help Prevent Seventh Suicide Under Benoît Battistelli

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

And these are the sorts of people whom Battistelli assaults

The role of employee representatives

Summary: The utterly bad working atmosphere at the EPO has almost just led to another suicide; the person in question is now in hospital

“Another suicide has just been avoided at EPO (Rijswijk, NL) on Thursday 28 September.”

This is what we are learning today. It does not exactly surprise us given what we are hearing from insiders. We even wrote about about a related subject yesterday (not the same person). The staff responsible for occupational health certainly knows about all this trouble. The windows have already been bolted shut at that building, preventing further incidents like staff jumping out during working hours.

“Does the EPO mention it anywhere at all — internally or externally — this time around?”Will the EPO mention this incident? Of course not. When the suicides do happen (which — let’s face it — happens a lot) the EPO only mentions it internally and calls suicides "passing away".

Does the EPO mention it anywhere at all — internally or externally — this time around? Readers, please let us know.

At Twitter, the EPO has just continued the "SMEs" lie and promoted this event (at EPOPIC in Bulgaria the EPO will be promoting the UPC — in the form of sessions — even though the Unitary Patent is dead/dying).

They just don’t seem to care if the present trajectory (master plan of Battistelli) has accomplished nothing but brain drain, depression, and destroyed reputation that took almost half a century to earn.

“We have heard about similar incidents/stories; Battistelli cannot just dismiss or excuse the problem. To make matters worse, he actively wastes money producing face-saving denials of the problem (often in the form of so-called ‘studies’), thus further contributing to his complicity in a cover-up.”We don’t want to say too much about the above incident, but the staff representatives (i.e. SUEPO or the Central Staff Committee, which are overlapping) deserve credit in preventing a suicide. This “would have been [the] 7th (suicide) in the past 5 years under PD HR Bergot and Battistelli, her protector),” we have learned. “The colleague is currently hospitalised but safe.”

The person in question has been “working in a directorate where the director in charge is very much known for putting down far too high production pressure on his staff and acts deliberately as a sort of “Vollstrecker” (being sick is not an excuse for him when it comes to production targets).”

We have heard about similar incidents/stories; Battistelli cannot just dismiss or excuse the problem. To make matters worse, he actively wastes money producing face-saving denials of the problem (often in the form of so-called ‘studies’), thus further contributing to his complicity in a cover-up.

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